On January 21, 2021, the non-profit organization (NGO) Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) published an open letter in the name of twelve other NGOs to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), requesting clarifications regarding the regulation and risk management of nanometal-biocide treated products within the European Union.

Because of the COVID pandemic, demands for antiviral coatings and products have increased rapidly. This has led to a growing number of products on the EU market containing nanoparticles of silver (CAS 7440-22-4), zinc oxide (CAS 1314-13-2), or copper (CAS 7440-50-8) as a surface disinfectant for, e.g., masks, appliances, and packaging. Yet, it remains unclear whether this additional treatment is necessary and if it is safe. The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) pointed out that these additional routes of exposure to nanoproducts “may give rise to toxicological effects in the medium term and human health impacts cannot be ruled out.” Furthermore, the widespread use of such products could also contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Currently, products treated with a do not need authorization even if the individual compounds are subject to authorization under REACH.

The authors concluded that “it is important to provide clarity on these critical issues and safeguard human health and environment.”


AZoNano (February 4, 2021). “Silver Embedded Plastic Packaging can Form Harmful Nanoparticles in Foods.

Vanessa Zainzinger (January  28, 2021). “NGOs lean on Echa to clarify management of articles treated with nano-biocides.Chemical Watch

HEAL (January 21, 2021). “Letter: 13 NGOs write to EU Chemicals Agency with important questions on nano and biocidal-treated products.” (pdf)